Tired of glitz and looking for a transformative musical experience? You can do no better than to hear this relatively unheralded musician play some of the most sublime music ever written.
By Helen Epstein.
After Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary hoopla—movie screens, record-breaking crowds and revenue—it’s nice to get back to the serious musical fare that Tanglewood was established to provide: an unusual, four-recital series of Johannes Brahms’s complete solo piano works performed by German pianist Gerhard Oppitz in Ozawa Hall. Oppitz will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto, Number 24 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) on Sunday afternoon but, more importantly, he will continue his Brahms programs on Wednesday and Thursday evening (July 25 and 26).
Although he is a widely acclaimed soloist in Europe, I had never heard or even heard of Gerhard Oppitz until I had him play Brahms last Thursday evening in the second program of his series, which included piano pieces from various periods of the composer’s life. It was also my first opportunity to hear an entire program of Brahms’s solo piano music, and it made me wonder why such programs are not offered more frequently.
Oppitz, who teaches at the Academy of Music in Munich, is a consummate interpreter of Brahms: a professor as well as performer. His quiet virtuosity, thorough mastery of the repertoire, and obvious love of the music and its composer were palpable even out on the lawn where the audience sat uncharacteristically silent. If you can get to Tanglewood next week, are tired of glitz and looking for a transformative musical experience, you can do no better than to hear this relatively unheralded musician playing some of the most sublime music ever written.
Helen Epstein is the author of Music Talks: Conversations with Musicians and other books about the arts.